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After 20 Years, the Indie Scene Has Truly Changed

carmineA year or so after I graduated Cal State Long Beach, I was hanging out with fellow art student Ted Seko. Ted had been doggedly self-publishing his own highly acclaimed indie title, Billy Cole. He told me “Ramon, self-publishing your own comic is like having a heroine addiction. All you do is work and work to get enough money for your next issue.” At the time, 1993, he was the only guy I knew who was self-publishing. Today, it seems like everyone is.

I did my first in-store signing a few weeks ago at Carmine Street Comics in New York City’s Greenwhich Village, known for being very supportive of local creators. As I sat there, next to me I could see a shelf full of indie titles, many from self-publishers I have come to know and am proud to call friends. Chris Brimacombe (Nap Boy), James Rodriguez (Sarah Rising), Patrick Reilly (Totally Absurd), Tod Emko (A Piggy’s Tale), Kristen Gudsnuk (Hench Girl), Jan Marc Quisumbing (Pogi Boy) and my mentor Amy Chu (Girls’ Night Out).

With social media, it’s now easier than ever to promote your work and find collaborators, worldwide even. With computers, production can be done by almost anyone. With print-on-demand, it is now affordable to do short runs of your books. And with comic cons almost every weekend, there are more opportunities to showcase the fruits of your labor.

They say it’s a new golden age for comics, especially for creator-owned projects. I say it’s a golden age for the small independent self-publisher as well. I say, we should be celebrating with gratitude and taking advantage of all these opportunities. We no longer need DC, Marvel, Image or Dark Horse to realize our storytelling dreams. Not even Malibu, Mirage, Vortex or Eclipse. (Wow, just dated myself!) Now all you need is your imagination and lots of gumption. Sure, I still hear a few creators whining about not having enough cash or not being able to find collaborators. But I believe that if you want it badly enough, you will find a way to make comics instead of excuses.

Today, you can print your own comic books at half the time and a fraction of the cost. Which is great for me because I can now go back to spending most of my money on heroine.

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